Efficiency, comfort, accommodating airline personnel and amenities are all things any passenger would desire during any airline flight. Those desires, however, would be pale in comparison to the one thing we all covet more than anything else: flight safety. Fortunately, we live in an age where technologies are emerging at warp speed in every arena of industrialized societies; and technologies that focus on flight safety is no exception.
If you are a ‘white knuckle’ flier, you may appreciate these three incredible innovations that just might lower your blood-pressure and heart-rate the next time you soar into the friendly skies.
It’s hard to imagine that aircraft could collide with one another when so much airspace exists, but many would be surprised to know that some airports have a reputation for problematic, air-space congestion. And it is not just congestion that can contribute to collisions – pilot error, though rare, can contribute, as well. Thanks to TCAS – known as the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System – aircraft crashing into one another can be prevented. TCAS technology monitors the airspace around aircraft that are transponder-equipped; and pilots are warned of craft, in close proximity. Interestingly, this warning system works independently of air-traffic control, which means it operates anywhere at anytime, even over water.
Then, there is ADS-B which provides more accurate and reliable tracking of in-flight craft – their positions and velocities – as well as those on the ground. ADS-B is a low-cost replacement for conventional radar with far-greater precision and an ability to cover a much greater percentage of the earth’s surface. For example, planes flying over huge swaths of terrain in Australia that are void of radar coverage can now take advantage of ADS-B technology with its satellite-based surveillance capabilities.
Takeoffs and Landings
We’ve all heard the adage: the most dangerous parts of a flight are a plane’s take-off and landing. Unfortunately, these two phases of flight can be problematic. Factors that raise the accident risk regarding takeoff and landing are: 1) slower aircraft speed 2) an increase in maneuvering procedures and 3) reduced airspace due to congestion of planes. According to Boeing, 16% of fatal accidents occur during takeoff and initial ascent, while 29% take place during the approach and landing. The International Air Transport Association tells us that 65% of aviation accidents – including not-fatal — take place during approach and landing.
With all that being said, there is some very good news: Honeywell has put out what is called ‘SmartLand and SmartRunway’. This technology creates an alert if the aircraft is unstable during approach or if the craft might be landing too far down the runway; and it alerts pilots about runway and taxi locations. Additionally, pilots are warned if craft or vehicles, of any kind, are on the runway that should not be.
We can’t control the weather; but we can control how we respond to it. Problematic weather is taken very seriously since it can spell disaster, in addition to costing the flight industry billions of dollars each year due to cancellations, delays, etc. Meet IntuVue RDR-4000 – a 3D weather-radar software that, automatically and continuously, tracks and stores data concerning weather hazards that have formed, or are taking place, in the distance. Pilots receive a 3-D image of problematic weather conditions – such as turbulence and severe-storm activity – in addition to terrain in the respective area. As a result, pilots can gain enhanced situational awareness and respond, accordingly.
We all want to get to our destinations as uneventfully, as possible; and thanks to highly-advanced aviation technologies, flight safety is maximized for everyone!